Beowulf Grendel Synthesis essay

1603 Words Mar 12th, 2014 7 Pages
Pretending Not To Care
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “What does nihilism mean? That the highest values devaluate themselves. The aim is lacking; ‘why?’ finds no answer”. Nietzsche reasons that when a society values anything—an object, a person, or a philosophy—it becomes a challenge to see who can obtain it, and those who cannot, form this idea that the value is pointless. He goes on to say that while those who cannot obtain it may act like they don’t care about this value, they still ask ‘why?’ to try to understand why others see its value, but are never able to and are rejected by their society. Grendel and the Anglo-Saxon society are an example of this. While the Anglo-Saxons went about their life, Grendel watched from a distance.
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Similarly, when Beowulf is talking about fighting Grendel, he talks about his God’s role in the fight. He points out that “God can easily halt these raids and harrowing attacks” (Beowulf, 478-479). Not only does the reference to God convey that the members of their society put much faith in their God but also confusion as to why their God would punish them by creating monsters to attack them. Both instances offer examples of people putting faith in a higher power to do the right thing but lose confidence in them and become conflicted. The higher power lets the people down, revealing conflicting values, which can be a result of lack of communication. Not only do Grendel and the Anglo- Saxons have different values, they also have no way to communicate, which would enable them to find a common ground and understand where each other is coming from. During one of Grendel’s raids, he faced Unferth, and attempted to be witty as he challenged him. Unferth did not understand, even as Grendel repeated himself louder and slower, but “even [then] he didn’t know what [Grendel] was saying” (Gardner, 83). While Grendel did not have good intentions, his motives were unclear to Unferth and the other humans as he tried to speak to them. Although Unferth did not need to ask what Grendel was planning on doing, the capability to communicate is clearly lacking. An outside source could be of help. The Shaper, a man
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